Solid Waste Characterization and Management in a Highly Vulnerable Tropical City

Oscar Julián Esteban Cantillo, Benjamin Quesada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Inadequate waste management can cause human health problems, economic losses, and environmental contamination. Colombian municipalities face the critical issues of very low levels of recycling for solid waste, increasing waste quantities, precarious conditions for waste pickers, a lack of investment in alternative strategies, increasing pollution, and landslides in landfills. Moreover, Colombia lacks an in-situ quantification of solid waste, as well as alternative strategies based on an analysis of the local contexts. This study provides an analysis of the current waste management and a characterization of the waste production in a highly vulnerable tropical city in Colombia, Puerto Carreño, the capital municipality in Vichada. Systematically following the collection routes, we determined that 61% of waste produced is potentially recyclable, and that the total solid waste per inhabitant (at 0.504 kg/capita/day) is 43% lower than that estimated by the private local waste collector. The great majority of solid waste is disposed of in El Merey landfill, which does not currently fulfill legal requirements. Given the current incentivization legislation, formal economic gains can be achieved, including an increase in employment, and the reduction of negative social and environmental impacts near the landfill, and it is estimated that its useful lifetime can be doubled (+30 years) within a circular economy framework. This study is an important contribution for local and national authorities to implement key waste-management recommendations, including the formalization of indigenous waste pickers, implementation of selective collection routes, agricultural exploitation of the organic waste, and adequate landfill management.

Translated title of the contributionCaracterización y gestión de residuos sólidos en una ciudad tropical altamente vulnerable
Original languageEnglish
Article number16339
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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